Have you ever flown “First Class”? Once you have, you never want to fly coach again! Think about your customers, business associates, friends and family. Are you giving those around you a “First Class Experience”? It’s not that difficult nor does it require that much additional effort to go the extra mile. But it makes all the difference in the world.
Let me cite two examples. On my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, I went to a local florist and asked for twenty-five red roses. I was told, “We only sell them by the dozen. I’ll have to charge you $6.50 for the extra rose.” I explained the occasion, and again got the same answer. I then asked if there was anyone who could arrange twenty-five different colored roses, and was told that person was out sick. Asking to speak with the manager, I explained the situation again and received exactly the same response. Frustrated, I suggested, “Bring me out twenty-five roses. I’ll arrange them myself and I will be on my way.” Their response was, “We can’t do that.” By this time I had had enough and told them, “Give me that dozen there and that dozen there and give me that single rose and put it in the middle of this dozen and I am out of here.” I left the florist with two separate arrangements, one with 12 roses and one with 13. And by the way, they did charge me $6.50 for that extra rose.
What is amazing to me is that companies invest millions of dollars to bring us in the door and all it takes is one bad experience to lose us forever. Is the customer always right? No, not always. However, the customer’s perception is his or her reality, whether it’s right or wrong.
Example number two: I was recently in Columbus, Ohio on a business trip. I called a local cab company and arranged to be picked up at a specific time. I walked out the front door at the arranged time and there was my cab; several years old, but you’d never know it from the spotless exterior immaculate interior. The driver greeted me with a smile, and I told him my destination. He grabbed a map and off we went.
About 10 minutes into our journey I mentioned to the driver that he had forgotten to turn on the meter. He told me, “I didn’t forget. I’m not sure where we are going and I am not going to turn on the meter until I am sure.” 20 minutes later we arrived at my destination, and still no meter. “How much am I going to pay you? I asked. He began to calculate the mileage and I said, “I need a ride back at 5:45. Why don’t you come back and pick me up, you can meter it back to the hotel and I’ll double the fare.” He agreed, and when I came out at 5:45 he was waiting as promised. On the way back to the hotel I asked if he could give me a ride to the airport the following morning at 5:30 am, and he responded with a simple yes, only because he was from Ethiopia and didn’t speak English that well. Well, the following morning my new personal chauffer was waiting for me.
That driver got three fares instead of just one because he provided me with a “First Class Experience”. His car was old, but it was clean. He couldn’t speak a lot of English, but he was friendly and enthusiastic. And as a result, I will never forget that experience.
I have a very simple philosophy: always leave them better than you found them. As E.W. Statler once said, “Life is service, the one who progresses is the one who give his fellow being a little more, a little better service.” Go the extra mile with those around you, give them that “First Class Experience”, and you will create relationships that last.
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